Blackberry


QUICK REFERENCE PLANTING GUIDE

1. Light/Sun Exposure - Full to partial sun.

2. USDA Hardiness Zones - 4 to 9.

3. Planting Distance - 5 feet apart in ground.

4. Mature Height/Spread - As indicated below.

  • 'Chester' and 'Triple Crown': 6 to 10 feet tall with a spread of 3 to 4 feet.
  • 'Navaho': 4 to 5 feet tall with a spread of 3 to 4 feet.
  • 'Freedom': 4 to 10 feet tall with a 4 to 6 foot spread.

5. Bloom Time - Late spring.

6. Planting Instructions - Dig a hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the plug or pot you received.  Gently remove the root ball from the pot.  Partially backfill the hole with soil and place the plant into the hole.  The top of the root ball should be level with the ground surrounding the hole.  Refill the hole with soil, firming the soil around the plant with your fingers.  Check to be sure that the plant is not planted too deeply.  If it is, raise the plant carefully and refirm the soil.  Water thoroughly.

GET THE MOST ENJOYMENT

'Triple Crown' - an early-bearing semi-erect variety that is self-pollinating and yields up to 30 pounds of berries per plant at maturity.

'Chester' - a late-bearing semi-erect variety that is especially sweet and the hardiest of all blackberries.

'Navaho' -  a late-bearing erect variety with moderately sweet fruit.

'Freedom' -  is the first thornless blackberry that blooms on new wood.  A early-bearing primocane fruiting variety with exceptional fruit size and good flavor.  Fruits again in the fall where the climate is suitable.

SOIL PREPARATION

 

Although these plants will perform well in average garden soils of all types, we recommend having your soil tested periodically by the local County Extension Office.  These tests can determine if the soil needs any amendments to enhance your plants' growth and performance.  See below for our recommended practice to improve your soil without any additional testing:

1.  Spade or till the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches.

2.  To provide nutrients and improve drainage, add organic matter to your soil by mixing in a 2 to 4-inch layer of dehydrated manure, garden compost, shredded leaves, and/or peat moss.

3.  After active growth begins, periodically feed with Cottage Farms' water soluble Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster for Fruits and Vegetables. Plants in containers need more frequent watering and feeding, especially when in active growth and bloom.

CONTINUING CARE

Water - Your plants require 1" of rainfall (or equivalent watering) each week when planted in the ground.  Do not allow plants in containers to dry out.  In a container that is exposed to full sun, water it well at least once every other day, and possibly every day, during periods of intense summer heat.  You may wish to temporarily move containerized plants to an area where they are shielded from the hot summer sun (i.e. in the shade of a tree, on a porch near an overhang).

Mulching - Apply a 2-4 inch layer of shredded bark, compost or other organic mulch around your plants to promote moisture retention, maintain even soil temperatures, and to discourage weed growth.

Weeding - Keep the area around your plants free of weeds. Weeds compete with all plants for food, water and light. Walk around the garden periodically and pull weeds, including the roots, as soon as you see them.

Pruning - Blackberries send up new shoots (primocanes) from the crown or buds formed on the roots. These canes produce no flowers or fruit the first year. The second year these canes are called floricanes. These are the canes that flower and produce fruit. 

Floricanes gradually die after fruiting. Old floricanes should be removed and burned immediately after fruiting.

New primocanes should be pruned back in the summer to a height of 3 to 4 feet, forcing the plants to grow side branches which will bear next year's crop.  

You will need to top (trim back) the primocanes throughout the season since the canes emerge at different times. Topping the primocanes in the summer promotes self-supporting plants and encourages lateral branch development which increases fruit production the following year. 

Select four to six canes per linear foot of row for next year's fruiting wood. Cut lateral (side branches) branches back to about 12 inches before growth starts in the spring.  

Feeding - Feed your plants once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer such as Cottage Farms' Carefree Bud-N-Flower Booster for Fruits and Vegetables. Discontinue feeding after September 1st so your plants can harden off for winter dormancy. Resume fertilizing when new growth appears in the spring.

Winterizing - The time to protect your plants in the garden is after the ground has frozen. At that time, a covering of a loose, non-compacting mulch or soil "hilled" 3 to 4 inches around the base of each plant should be used for winter protection.

For container planting, move plants next to your home's southern foundation for added warmth and protection. They may also be moved into an unheated, protected area such as a garage or cellar. If moved to a protected area be sure you water them well once every 2 to 3 weeks as needed.

In spring, remove mulch from in-ground plantings and remove any dead or damaged parts on any plants.  Also, bring containerized plants back out into the garden sunlight where they will immediately begin to repeat their yearly garden performance.  

 

CAUTION: Not all plant material is edible. Though most plants are harmless, some contain toxic substances which can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, or other discomforts. As a general rule, only known food products should be eaten. In case of ingestion, please contact your local poison control center at once and advise them of the plant ingested. Keep out of reach of children.